As part of the company’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19, on April 4 Vale launched the “Vale COVID-19 Challenge,” offering cash prizes for companies that bring forth “innovative COVID-19 solutions into the marketplace.”

Up to US$1 million in funding is available for competitors in Canada and Brazil, with each winner receiving up to $200,000. The three categories that Vale is accepting submissions for include: risk monitoring and prevention, patient monitoring and open challenge.

The risk monitoring and prevention category, true to its name, focuses on measures and solutions designed to help prevent further spread of the virus, identify risk areas and educate mining industry members on how to stay safe. The virus is incredibly contagious and can spread from asymptomatic carriers, so measures to prevent the virus from spreading further is of utmost importance. Access to reliable information, protective equipment, sanitation and hygiene are priorities for this category.

Patient monitoring refers to managing the physical and mental well-being of those quarantining and practising physical and social isolation. While patients in hospital require significant attention, those with mild or no symptoms are asked to stay home and isolate, which according to Vale, “can cause irritability, depression and anguish, each of which can be further aggravated by the uncertainty of the current economic situation caused by COVID-19, as well as individuals’ underlying medical histories. Solutions for this category would  target people in quarantine, in at-risk populations, workers in essential services, healthcare professionals and those in isolated communities.

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Lastly, the open challenge refers to solutions outside the confines of the other categories designed to minimize the impact of COVID-19, such as logistics, nutrition, information systems, employment and income.

“Around the globe, industries and individuals alike are working diligently to find innovative solutions to combat this invisible enemy,” Vale North Atlantic operations and Asian refineries COO Dino Otranto said. “Through this challenge, Vale will be able to support the activation of solutions that have a real potential to positively impact the trends of this virus.”

Possible competitors will need to act quickly, as the registration deadline is April 9. Participants will then have until April 17 to submit their entries. Vale is encouraging companies, startups, institutions, governments, universities and professionals “with low to zero-cost solutions [that] can be deployed the end-user within 15 days from the approval date” to enter.

The winners of the challenge will be announced on Vale’s website on April 24 and will be evaluated in part by healthcare experts from organizations such as Horizon Occupation Health Solutions, Medisys, Health Sciences North Sudbury and NORCAT.